BY JOSH PRESLEY
According to the Mississippi Department of Health, more than 100 Mississippians have died as a result on ATV accidents since 2008.
The state has had more than 400 ATV-related deaths since 1982, 100 of those being children under 16. According to MDH, ATVs present unique dangers because they can reach high speed off the road where unpredictable conditions can cause collisions and rollovers.
Mississippi State University Extension Service 4-H/Youth Agent Fran Brock said with statistics are alarming, and that ATV safety is more important than ever.
â€śFour-wheelers are a way of life in Mississippi, so itâ€™s really important for our kids to know how to properly use them,â€ť Brock said.
She said many residents donâ€™t know proper safety techniques for operating an ATV. A person driving an ATV should always wear a helmet and never allow a passenger to ride on the rack, according to Brock.
â€śA lot of people think ATVs are meant to hold passengers, but theyâ€™re not,â€ť Brock said. â€śIf you come around a sharp curve, the rider on the back may not lean the way you lean, and it could cause a serious accident.â€ť
The Extension Service offers ATV safety courses at the Jimmy Bryan 4-H Youth Complex in West Point, according to Brock. She said each course consists of 16 four-hour classes, where local youth can learn about proper driving techniques and safety procedures.
West Point Police Chief Tim Brinkley said ATVs are relatively safe vehicles, as long as theyâ€™re operated in a safe manner.
â€śWe may see them in town but very seldom do we see them on the street,â€ť Brinkley said. â€śWe have so much traffic on our city streets, and parents in our community recognize that danger and wonâ€™t let their kids ride four-wheelers in the street.â€ť
Clay County Sheriff Eddie Scott said ATVs are a constant issue in the county. Most of the calls Clay County Sheriffâ€™s Department gets about ATV riders concern destruction of roads or obstruction of traffic.
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